They just don’t make records like this anymore – and for good reason. The boundaries between mainstream, experimental, parody, recreation and reverence have become so elevated that creating a well-played swinging session without a secondary agenda has become practically anathema. Luckily, this sextet of Berlin-based improvisers ignores the strictures to produce this piece of Paradise.
Anachronistic and advanced at the same time, the 14 selections played by the CVDG Project relate most closely to the sophisticated strain of arranged modern Jazz crafted on both sides of the US in the mid-1950s before being swept away by the Hard Bop verses Cool Jazz wars. Composer/arrangers like Jimmy Giuffre, Gil Melle, Gigi Gryce and Benny Golson weren’t afraid to abstain from the cult of the soloist to let individual expression flow naturally from gnomic compositions. And all this was done without neglecting bedrock, Count Basie-ish swing.
Bremen-born pianist, teacher and painter Christian von der Goltz, who composed the bulk of the material understands this. So do the other band members, trumpeter/tenor horn player Martin Klingeberg and alto saxophonist Henrik Walsdorff, part of Ulrich Gumpert’s Worksop bands; bassist Jan Roder and drummer Kay Luebke who have backed up Silke Eberhard; and bass clarinetist Rudi Mahall, featured in innumerable bands, including Die Enttäuschung. The majority of pieces here work with an internal logic that mates comfort with creativity. In fact, even if a composition has been constructed in a cerebral manner, like comic relief in a serious film, traces of an unashamed groove remain. On “Zucks Delight” for instance, the pianist continues spinning out the swinging melody even as the accompaniment accelerates. Von der Goltz’s “Congo Sleepwalk”, which could be an erudite variation on a classic train Blues, featuring dot-dash-like riffs from Klingeberg to contrast with Mahall’s fluid spills as the pianist limns the tremolo theme. Additionally while tunes such as “Marche funèbre” may move past a Sicilian funeral dirge to one in New Orleans, featuring the drummer’s two-beat ending; and “Bonk Da Monk”, may lope, lurch and leap like a 1950s California distillation of the Thelonious Monk oeuvre; emotion remains paramount. Most prominently the blood pumping passion arrives courtesy of Walsdorff, who wafts out wide swathes of reed real estate. Throughout, he sounds like an amalgam of Pete Brown and Johnny Hodges at their most florid without losing his modernist bite.
This view of Paradise isn’t the future of Jazz or even German improvised music. But with its utilization of past motifs coupled with contemporary thematic elaborations, it should be the sound of modern mainstream music – from any country.
— Ken Waxman
June 24, 2017